Psychology of the rich

Most humans care about money. More than we realise or declare: We look at the prices of goods, we look for paying jobs, we are continually making decisions about home economics. The way we spend reveals the way we face the future. And so we differentiate the thrifty from the profligate, the investor from the ascetic, even the stingy from the greedy… Our money habits are conditioned by good or bad experiences, our social position, the impact of the recent Covid, inflation or rising prices… etc. These and other factors shape our attitude and lead us in different directions: to risk, to waste, to greed, to savings, to generosity… The way we use money reveals the fears, envy and attachments that sculpt our psychology. Tell me how you use money and I will tell you what you are like. To heal our relationship with money, we must begin by recognising how we are conditioned by the so-called “vile metal”.

From this arises the great question that should challenge those of us who call ourselves Christians: Is Jesus of Nazareth exaggerating when he affirms that it is impossible to live serving God and serving money, and that, therefore, it is impossible for a rich person to be saved? Not at all. And let us note that, in Jesus’ time, there was no such criminal source of wealth and cruelty as the arms business, which impoverishes the poorest countries materially and ruins the rich countries humanly, and which is, moreover, the fastest way to destroy the planet. Jesus understood very well that to possess is to be possessed, even if one possesses little. The wisdom of the Bible also provides us with a description of the processes that show the extreme danger that poisons the psychology of those who feel rich.

The harshness and cruelty with which they treat those who have less, incapable of pitying the poor. Because, as Francis of Assisi naively said, if we have riches, we need weapons to defend them. They make us aggressive.

The ostentation and lies that lead the rich to be arrogant, to be conspicuous, to boast insultingly about their wealth… as if throwing their inferiority in the face of the rest of mankind, provoking envy, if not violence.

The incurable dissatisfaction and anxiety born of emptiness and mere appearance with its consequences of dissatisfaction, emptiness, disappointment, social rejection… because despite their inhuman psychology, the rich are still human.

And laziness and comfort because, although it is right that laziness is the mother of poverty, it is no less true that the rich only move to increase their own riches: only those that increase their comfort and their fortune.

However, following Jesus cannot be a renunciation, i.e. something negative. It is an offer of fullness. As long as we continue to talk about renunciation, we have not understood the message. It is not about renouncing anything, but about choosing the best. And the best cannot be confused with the psychology of the rich. Let us not forget that the secret of happiness is not to have more, but to need less. Isn’t it worth meditating a little on all this?


Juan Carlos cmf

(PHOTO: Jingming Pan)


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